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Vet Ital. 2012 Oct-Dec;48(4):453-61, 443-52.

Considerations on the sphere of application of European Union animal protection legislation for horses.

[Article in English, Italian]

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Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Via Tolara di sopra, 50, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy.


The increasing awareness of animal welfare issues among consumers and the general public in the European Union has brought about the adoption of laws for the protection of production animals throughout the various steps of the food chain, from breeding to slaughter. Considering that horses may be kept for a variety of reasons, including as companion animals and as farm animals, protective legislation in Europe applies to this species only partially. In consistency with the areas of competence of the European Union, it is the purpose of the activity (be it economic/commercial or neither) and not the final purpose of the equine (whether they are intended for human consumption or not) along the entire food chain that determines the application of the above legislation. Even horses which are not kept for food production are covered by EU laws when they are bred or transported in connection with a commercial activity, while equines kept for purposes outside this context are protected only by national laws.

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